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Changing out brakes and rotors

48412 Views 66 Replies 42 Participants Last post by  nagami
Hi all,

any advice appreciated in advance..

I've been on the search for finding a good mechanic and decent prices for the impending brake job for my 2003 EX.

When my Element was

- at 44,500 miles, the Honda mechanics mentioned that all 4 brake pads will need to be replaced soon before the next oil change which I take that to be another 3,000 miles at least.

- at 45,500 miles, the private mechanics mentioned that front pads still have 50% life on them and the rotors look fine. The rear pads have 25% life left and he recommended replacing the rear rotors at the same time within 5,000 miles.

- at 49,500 miles, the Honda mechanics mentioned that the front pads and rotors will need to be replaced. The rear rotors are okay but the pads have less than 5% left on them and should be replaced.


Now how confusing is that for a mechanically challenged owner?

I am getting conflicting info from different mechanics.. One saying front rotors needs to go the other saying its the rear.

I've been reading through the brake and rotor related posts and my conclusion based on the forum posts is that usually front rotors needs to be replaced before the rear, so is there any reason that my rear rotors needs to be replaced?

I've noticed that it's taking longer distance to stop and on highways when I step on the brakes a bit harder my rear brakes pulsates.. which I take it it's time for something to be replaced.

My top priority is safety of course.. so should I just get the mechanics to replace all 4 pads and rotors at the same time?

The dealers want over $850 for the job, while private mechanics are asking around $750.

I am leaning towards the private mechanics. The choices I have now are do I go with

a - Honda pads and Brembo rotors


b - Bendix pads and True Star rotors

I am in northern/central NJ by the way if any of you are in the area that can recommend a mechanic even better!

Thanks a bunch.
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I can't think of what pin they could be referring to that has to slide freely... Only think that slides freely would be the piston itself which is inside the caliper and that doesn't get greased. The caliper is held on with 2 bolts to the carrier. The pads are held in place with a clip... No sliding anywhere, it isn't a floating caliper. :-?

I'll check my manual when I get home later.

vovo said:
Thanks I have a service manual on order I am not expecting it to be here until early next week if anyone can provide me the torque specs it would be appreciated. I know early this week my pads were getting stuck so I stopped driving my E. I was told I needed to lubricate the pin on the caliper that it is suppose to slide freely, I believe that is what it is called. Any idea of what type of grease I should use. Anyone in central nj area have an element owners manual I live near belmar in Monmouth County NJ.

Info from my service manual :

Front :
Limit brake pad thikness : 1.6 mm / 0.06 in.

Apply Molykote M77 grease ( p/N 08798-9010 ) to both sides of pad shims ( inner and outer ), back of the pads and on the upper and lower ''tab''.

Tighten flange bolt ( 8 X 10 mm ) at 34 N-m / 3.5 kgf-m / 25 lbs-ft

Rear :
Limit brake pad thikness : 1.6 mm / 0.06 in.

Apply Molykote M77 grease ( p/N 08798-9010 ) to both sides of pad shims ( inner and outer ), back of the pads and on the upper and lower ''tab''.

Also, apply grease to the piston edges on their mating surfaces against the inner pad

Tighten caliper bolts at 22 N-m / 2.2 kgf-m / 16 lbs-ft

Damn, it is soooo simple with the service manual. My brakes are brand new, but next time I will do it by myself :)
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ramblerdan said:
If you get the pad kit from Honda, it will come with grease and new clips.
I didn't like the little packet of grease that came with the pads.

Not sure how to explain it there were these two bolts or possible springs of some sort that the mechanic who I got an estimate from said these two things should slide freely and I should greese them almost looked like something that would push provide tension for your pad/Caliper off of the rotor after you took your foot off of the brake to prevent the pad from rubbing? I believe it had some type of rubber boot over the bolt.

Never posted pic before but this URL is from majestic honda website Rear Brake I believe it is illustration number 12 and 14 I am refering to. PIN A and Pin B I was told to lubricate. Do I also need to buy shim pad or do they come with the pads I got from Honda

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Thanks All I started a reply a few hours ago and never sent it, Everyone has been extremely helpful just saw all your responses thanks for taking the time for looking at the Service manual I really appreciate it. I will take pics and post on my break pad change.
Okay, beauuuutiful day outside..

here are some of the pictures I took of my rotors and brake pads. But as you'll see the wheels are still on so it makes it hard to get the angles.

I noticed that both of my front rotors felt pretty smooth while the rear ones feels like an old record. Any reason for the drastic difference between front and rear surface?

While I was out there with my digicam my mailman stopped to ask if I needed help :)


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Just a couple comments after reading through this thread. I didn't see any mention of the brake wear indicators. My E only has 35,000 but I seem to remember the indicators when I painted my calipers. Anyone who's heard them knows beyond a doubt they need a brake job regardles of what a mechanic says! Also, all Hondas have floating calipers. Each caliper has only one piston but two pads. The only way both pads can contact the rotor is if the caliper "floats" as the piston shove's one pad against the rotor. The lithium grease goes on the slideing pins when you do a brake job. As far as the anti-squeal stuff, it worked great on my TR-4 but Honda's have that piece of tin the same shape as the brake pad ( it goes on the back of the pad) that accomplishes the same thing. Never had a Honda brake squeal but if I did I think I still have some of that anti squeal stuff around.

I've done a lot of brake jobs on many different cars (I'm old and cheap, never paid anyone else to do it!) and I'd never do brakes without turning the rotors. The idea is the "groves" counterpart is a "ridge". The ridges generate more heat which causes accelerated wear on both pads and rotors as well as degraded braking. Probably a minimal amount but the last time I had rotors turned the cost was also minimal.
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this weekend was my change from OEM to ceramic pads (just in front, so far).
It was voluntary- only 13K on my E but I wasn't happy with the amount of pedal force necessary to really stop quickly.

Bought some Satisfied Pro ceramic pads and swapped them in on Sunday. The rotors were fine and I went through the bedding process after installing them.

I have to say it is a big improvement!!

Also, being in the northeast, they were in need of a good cleaning to free up their motion anyway. Looks like this will be an annual event, even if the pads/rotors aren't in need of replacement.
oh man, you are getting hosed on those estimates.

4 new brake pads are less than $100 delivered from HandA ( installation should be $50 or so.

unless something weird is going on, your rotors should be good for 150k miles.
It looks like there is still a good amount of the brake pad left and the rotors look fine to me. The rear pads aren't as thick as the fronts to begin with in most vehicles so they may not last as log even though the fronts brakes do most of the braking.
froggyac said:
I noticed that both of my front rotors felt pretty smooth while the rear ones feels like an old record. Any reason for the drastic difference between front and rear surface?
Froggy, my rear rotors look exactly the same way....I thought that I was the only one. Maybe there is an issue with the rear brakes on the Element. I was thinking about changing out the rotors and pads but I decided to wait until later.

Anyone else have the same symptom on the rear brakes?

I read in another thread that some people had the caliper freeze up in the rear. I am not sure how these two thing work together but heree goes: Basically, the pad "turned" slightly causing it to lodge at a weird angle. This created an accelerated degradation of the pad & rotor. One poster suggest filing the edge of the pad so there was less to grab onto(after replacement). Some of the same posters on that thread are within this one. I don't remember where the thread is. Maybe someone else is familiar w/ this?
It appears you have overheated the brakes at some time and the rotor are indeed "black", a sign of heat. Something is not quite right.
New Rotors and Pads 78K

I had a horrible rear grinding noise begin without any indication of a previous problem. (pads had been replaced 20K prior) Turns out the rear calipers angled and got stuck. Causing this god awful noise. So I had the Front and Rear Rotors and Pads replaced. $600 dollars with a lifetime warranty.

Worse news came when the front driver side tire started rattle and shake when I hit bumps. Apparently I need a new suspension. :-( Not so happy with my E. :-(
Lissy07 said:
the rear calipers angled and got stuck.
Both??? That's quite a coincidence.

Lissy07 said:
Apparently I need a new suspension.
If this is literally what the shop told you, get a second opinion. The suspension has many parts; you might need one or two.

Yes that is what they told me. And I don't have anyone who knows anything to go and see. The brakes are complete so there is no second opinion on that, however.. the suspension they said would be over 1,000 dollars. I'm not sure of their exact words, but they said it's leaking?
If you can get a specific written estimate, it will help a lot. What we know so far is hopelessly vague.

The only things I can think of that would leak are struts, CV joints, or bearings. Struts are most likely.

Replacing the entire suspension would cost way more than $1,000!
Good to know!!!!!!!!!

Once I take it to Honda I will be sure, but you have definitely calmed my fears a bit. I know that the warranty covers struts, cv joints and bearings. Fingers crossed. :)
Hey Froggy,

I have an '03 EX 4wd and I just replaced the rotors and pads all around. I found a decent deal on brembo rotors and pads ($152 per axle w/ shipping) on eBay. Their site is 88 Rotors. I've had the upgrades in place for about a week and can really feel the difference. Truth be told the slotted rotors look great through the 18" wheels too! I won't be much help in terms of a local brake installation source though.

Good luck,

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